The Diwali (25 Oct 03) and the Hindu New Year festivities were enthusiastically celebrated at the Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Neasden, London. On Diwali day many people participated in the Chopda Pujan ceremony, where old books of accounts were closed and the new books were blessed. Thousands of people enjoyed the spectacular fireworks display which followed from the safety of The Swaminarayan School grounds.
On 26 October, the first day of the Hindu New Year [Vikram Samvat 2060] devotees and well-wishers came to the mandir as a mark of respect and to celebrate the Hindu New Year. The Annakut, offering of over 1500 vegetarian items of food, snacks, sweets, pickles, spicy dishes, salads, drinks and various other dishes had been displayed on a 100 foot stage, decorated on the theme of the peacock (National Bird of India).
Multicolored rangoli designs and floral decorations lent to a picturesque grand display which was marvelled by everyone as part of the annual celebrations. The Festival of Lights was portrayed through a magnificent stage setting against a backdrop of giant lamps and peacocks celebrating the illumination of light and color in people’s lives.
Both young and old participated in the festivities wearing colorful new clothes, enjoying snacks and sweets, meeting and rejoicing with relatives and friends in an atmosphere of happiness. Hundreds of volunteers assisted on this most auspicious day helping the elderly and young who had traveled from all over the UK to visit the Mandir.
Prayers were offered to Bhagwan Swaminarayan, a special message from His Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj, the spiritual leader of the BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha was conveyed to all. He prayed for "peace and prosperity throughout the world."
Dignitaries such as Indian High Commissioner Ronen Sen, Mayor of London Ken Livingstone and Minister for Transport Tony McNulty, MP also visited the Mandir.